In which Wren gripes, then updates news

Hi, friends!

Pardon me for not posting recently, but nothing much has changed on my personal RA/hip bursitis front. Seems like each time I start to write, I just end up spewing a load of whiney angst and helpless aggravation. Cathartic to write, no doubt, but utterly brain-numbing to read.


That said, allow me to complain about a different subject entirely. (Disclaimer: As a former graphic designer and newspaper editor, I have a few pet peeves when it comes to publication design and style. I cannot help myself … )

Many websites (almost all of them with a white background) not only indent quoted material but also change the quote’s font color to a very pale gray, presumably to make the quote stand out from the rest of the text.

I wear glasses to correct my vision, which is slowly deteriorating year by year. Reading that pale gray text on a white background drives me bats–t! I have to put my nose to the screen just to see the words, let alone read them. Even worse, some websites have chosen to make this pale gray font color their standard throughout.

I realize that this “style” is trendy and considered sophisticated. It does, in fact, look classy at first glance. But if I land on a site that uses it exclusively, I sigh, grumble under my breath and move on—even if I’m interested in the material. If it’s only the quotes that are in pale gray, I’ll read them, but grudgingly. And only if they’re short. Otherwise it’s just too much work.

A good publication design is one that makes reading the material quick, easy and pleasurable. The reader should never have to think about the act of reading. It should never be a chore.

Surely I’m not the only middle-aged bifocal wearer who has trouble seeing and reading pale gray text. Why would anyone want to make their website difficult to read for a significant portion of their readers?

In other news, in the early morning of Friday last, my mom had what seemed to be a heart attack. Awful chest pain, panting for breath, skin gone waxy and colorless. I called an ambulance and they whisked her off to the hospital. Within an hour after arriving in the ER, the pain had abated to less than half of its previous intensity, her blood pressure normalized and she was breathing easily. She was admitted and taken upstairs to a bed in the cardiology unit. By mid-afternoon her pain had disappeared.

After a myriad of blood tests and cultures, several EKGs, an echo-cardiogram and a nuclear stress test, the cardiologist on weekend call determined that she hadn’t suffered a heart attack after all. He also determined that he didn’t know exactly what had caused her symptoms, but with her history of gastrointestinal problems, he suspected either her stomach or her gallbladder. Apparently either of them can cause the scary symptoms Mom suffered.

Did I mention she had a urinary tract infection, too? She was already taking antibiotics for that when she had the pseudo heart attack, so they switched her to IV antibiotics for the duration of her stay. The cardiologist didn’t think her UTI had anything to do with her symptoms.

They discharged her from the hospital on Sunday afternoon, heart-attack-symptom-free but totally exhausted from all the tests and not being allowed to do more than cat-nap day and night. She left with a new prescription for more UTI-busting antibiotics. She also had a roaring headache; they hadn’t allowed her to drink any coffee, ascaffeine is a stimulant and a strict no-no for heart patients.  Poor Mom had gone into withdrawal.

If you’ve ever had a caffeine-withdrawal headache, I’m sure you can sympathize. They’re horrible, front-and-center, pounding, nauseating things. I made her a largish cup of coffee as soon as we got home; she drank it down and her headache disappeared within an hour. Her relief was palpable.

We’re currently trying to get her an appointment for an abdominal ultrasound and another appointment for soon after with her gastroenterologist. It would be nice to get to the bottom of this; our weekend was by turns terrifying and dreadful. Neither one of us wants to go through another one like it.

On Monday afternoon Mom broke out in a rash that spread slowly from just under her left ribs up onto her chest. At first it just itched intensely; by evening she said it felt like it was “burning from the inside out.” She was absolutely miserable. The cold packs from the freezer that I use for my bursitis hips relieved the itch and burn as long as they stayed cold but had to be changed frequently.

At first, we feared that she’d gotten shingles. It wouldn’t be the first time; she had a really bad attack once about 15 years ago. But other than the itch and burn, she said she felt just fine. Shingles usually come with flu-like symptoms.

She refused to go to the local urgent care clinic. “I’ve had enough prodding and poking to last me a lifetime,” she growled. I couldn’t blame her. She went to bed late Monday evening with a freshly frozen cold pack. Both of us crossed our fingers. If the rash was from shingles, it would start raising tiny, leaking blisters by morning. We’d get her in to see her primary care doctor for treatment. The other possibility was that the rash was a side-effect from one of the drugs used on her during her hospital stay.

Yesterday morning she arose with the rash still visible but no longer itching or burning. No blisters. No sickness. We concluded that it must have been a side-effect. All that remains now of the last several days is that deep fatigue. She tires to the point of needing to lay down after even a little exertion. Gallbladder? Stomach? Your guess is as good as mine.

And me? I’m fine, except for my ever-aching hips and hands. Boring. I’m coping and trying to maintain my optimism and sense of humor.

I think I’m succeeding.